Quick Start

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The official version of this information is available in the Cerb User Guide:

Creating an On-Demand Trial

If you'd rather use an On-Demand trial than a downloaded copy of Cerb5:

Log in using the information from the welcome e-mail.

Making yourself at home

Now that you have a fresh helpdesk it's time to start personalizing it.


The people who answer helpdesk issues are called "workers". This term is much less ambiguous than "users", which may also describe the people writing in to the helpdesk.

Cerb5 can be used to great effect by a single person, but it's built for group collaboration; so you'll probably want to add a few fellow workers. The evaluation is limited to one logged in worker at a time (a seat), but you can create as many workers as you want for others to try later. You can also customize the default 'Superuser' account with your own information (just remember if you change a worker's primary email address it becomes their new login).

To add workers:

  • Click 'helpdesk setup' in the top right.
  • Click the 'Workers' tab.
Click the first or last name (not the e-mail address) to edit an existing worker.


Workers are organized into "groups". Groups are a flexible concept and can be based on anything: brand, product, department, timezone, language, etc. By default your helpdesk will contain three groups based on common departments: Dispatch, Support, and Sales. The defaults were chosen because they're common departments across most industries, not because they're all-encompassing. You are free to modify these groups to suit your needs.

If you stick with the defaults, this is the initial workflow:

  • Dispatch: This group catches all mail that isn't explicitly routed somewhere. Some companies prefer to have a human dispatcher assign work -- to verify support eligibility and route issues based on skillsets -- and this group is an easy way to achieve that. Because Cerb5 doesn't require incoming mail to always map to a group, the Dispatch group is also the best way to spot incoming e-mail addresses (like billing@example.com) that you may want to route directly to a particular group.
  • Support: This group collects issues related to support: product support, customer service, FAQs, billing, etc.
  • Sales: This group collects issues related to sales: leads, new orders, refunds, resellers, etc.

The workers inside groups can be either managers or members. Groups are designed to be autonomous, meaning their managers have the power to make most configuration changes related to the group without requiring help from an administrator. Managers can add new workers to the group, as well as create buckets and inbox filters -- both of which we'll cover next.

The common practice is to use groups for building a roster of fairly interchangeable workers; meaning work can be given to the group from the outside with the confidence that any member knows what to do with it. Groups share an organization system using buckets, but workers outside the group aren't expected to know how other groups organize their work (it shouldn't matter to them). Instead, new work is given to groups through their inbox, and the group's own filters will decide how work is routed or assigned from there.

To add groups:

  • Click 'helpdesk setup' in the top right.
  • Click the 'Groups' tab.

The rest of group configuration is handled by managers:

  • Click 'group setup' in the top right.
Only managers and administrators have access to this area.

The sections of group management are:

  • Workflow: This is where new buckets are created and optionally flagged as assignable. The contents of assignable buckets will be shown as 'Available' when workers are looking for things to do in the 'Workflow' tab of 'mail'.
  • Mail Preferences: Each group can define their own 'From:' address, personal sender name, shared e-mail signature, and auto-responses for new tickets or closed tickets. Each group can also define a different spam filtering policy, as different workflows are more sensitive or forgiving of junk mail.
  • Inbox Routing: Group managers can define a number of inbox filters that will be applied to any new mail received by the group. This automates most of the work of putting things in their proper place.
  • Members: This is the group's roster.
  • Ticket Fields: Each group can track their own custom fields on new tickets. For example, the Sales department may want to track the source (Google, website, ad) of leads while Support is interested in tracking the category of requests (FAQ, feature request, etc). These custom fields can be used to generate reports.


Buckets are flexible containers used by groups to organize their workload. Buckets may be based on any commonality between their contents, though they're primarily used to divide up work within a group. Buckets are also useful to move piles of work out of the way if they shouldn't be handled immediately (newsletters, survey responses, feature requests). Work can queue up in buckets, making it more efficient to handle similar issues at the same time (processing orders, issuing refunds, sending out beta information).

With department-themed groups, your buckets might look like:

  • Billing: receipts, refunds
  • Corporate: execs, partners, biz-dev
  • Development: bugs, feature requests, feedback
  • I.T.: logs, alerts, abuse
  • Marketing: surveys, newsletters
  • Sales: leads
  • Support: technical, account issues

Or if you had product-related groups, you could do:

  • Product X: Orders, Refunds, Support
  • Product Y: Orders, Refunds, Support
  • Product Z: Orders, Refunds, Support

Buckets aren't the only way to organize work, since they are often only concerned with a single shared characteristic, but they're a useful building block for more involved workflows.

Custom Fields

We've tried to make as few assumptions about your new helpdesk as possible, and instead we've made it easy for you to track the information you're interested in. You can add 'custom fields' to the major objects in the helpdesk, including organizations, contacts, tickets, tasks, feedback entries, time tracking, and opportunities. Custom fields aren't an afterthought, they'll be given the same benefits as our defaults; you can use custom fields as columns in lists, as search criteria, and as criteria or actions in group inbox filters. This flexibility makes Cerb5 more of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) toolkit than a specific approach to dealing with e-mail.

To add global custom fields:

  • Click 'helpdesk setup' in the top right.
  • Click the 'Custom Fields' tab.
More source objects will be added to the list when their respective plugin is enabled in 'Features & Plugins'.


Even though workers could distribute work between groups by hand (from Dispatch), you likely have several e-mail addresses that you want to deliver directly to specific groups. Routing is far more flexible in Cerb5 than previous versions.

You can route based on mailbox names:

  • sales@* (Send any mail for sales, on any domain, to the Sales group)

You can also route by brands or products:

  • *@product1.example.com (Send any Product1-related email to the Product1 group)

Or perhaps by regions:

  • support@usa.example.com (Send USA-based Support to the USA:Support group)

To route incoming mail to specific groups:

  • Click 'helpdesk setup' in the top right.
  • Click the 'Mail Routing' tab.

Let's go ahead and define two routing rules to make it easier to demonstrate the next section:

  • Route sales@* to Sales
  • Route support@* to Support
You can route incoming e-mail based on patterns in the mailbox or domain name.

Remember, these global routing rules will deliver matching messages to the specified group's inbox. Group inbox filters take over from there. (Mail Routing vs Inbox Routing)

Let's pretend...

Simulating incoming e-mail

Now that you have some basic mail routing in place, let's see what happens when new e-mail comes in. An evaluation helpdesk won't send live e-mail, but you're about to see why that's not a big deal.

You can create an unlimited supply of simulated inbound e-mail with Cerb5's Simulator system. You can aim this simulated e-mail at any group to test your mail routing and group inbox filters.

To simulate inbound e-mail:

  • Click 'helpdesk setup' in the top right.
  • Click the 'Simulator' tab. (The tab should be enabled by default; if it's not, click the 'Features & Plugins' tab and re-enable the Simulator plugin)
  • Choose a destination address, data flavor, and quantity; then click Generate.

Data flavors will generate mail based on a theme, such as Retail or Spam. The Spam dataset is very useful to test the anti-spam functionality of the helpdesk.

To continue our example above, send 25 messages (using whatever data flavor you want) to the following addresses:

  • sales@cerberusdemo.com
  • support@cerberusdemo.com
The simulator allows you to create an unlimited supply of realistic-looking mail during your evaluation. Note how Simulator is italicized, tabs enabled by plugins usually are.

A day in the life of a helpdesk worker

Finding the work

Now we're going to switch gears and look at the helpdesk from the perspective of a worker going about their daily duties. In the step above we simulated receiving 50 new messages split between the Sales and Support groups. We'll assume this was the mail waiting for us when our shift started.

  • Click 'mail' from the top navigation menu.
Workflow's 'Available' list only shows a subset of the 'Open' sidebar found in Overview. It will not have a 'Waiting' or 'Assigned' list.

These are the main sections of Mail:

  • Workflow shows available work from assignable buckets for all your groups (as chosen during 'group setup' earlier). This will usually hide spam and any other buckets where work isn't expected to be handled immediately. This is where you'll be picking up most of your new work.
  • Overview provides a higher-level view of all open, waiting, and assigned tickets in all your group's buckets. This is useful for oversight, or browsing work in non-assignable buckets.
  • Search helps you browse through the history of e-mail conversations using any properties or custom fields.
  • Drafts lists all outgoing mail in progress. Beyond saving unfinished messages for later, it also serves as a backup when a message fails to deliver properly.

Doing the work

  • Look through the list of available tickets in Workflow or Overview.
  • You can click "peek"Eval peek.pngto read the latest message without losing your place in the list.
The new peek icon in 5.x replaces the literal (peek) text from prior versions. It still opens a pop-up window like you would expect.
  • Click the URL in the window, or close the window and pick another message by clicking the bold subject line
We formally refer to this screen as "ticket display" throughout our documentation.

There are three main activities on tickets:

  • Reply: Sends an outgoing message to the requester(s). You would use this to respond to customers.
  • Sticky Note: Pins a note to a specific message, which forces that message to always be highlighted (and expanded) while the note is active. You would use this to draw attention to a specific message, which is especially useful when handing an issue off to another worker. Notes are temporary and can be removed like a Post-It™ note stuck to a document.
  • Comment: Leaves a private message in the timeline for other workers. You would use this to add some addition information to the conversation as a whole. Comments are a permanent contribution to a conversation's history. Create them from the separate 'Comments' tab. (Sticky Notes vs Comments)

The most common activity in your helpdesk will likely be replying to new messages. Here's the basic processs:

  • Click the 'Reply' button on the most recent message.
The reply button.
  • Type your response.
Drafts are automatically saved based on the 'Mail Queue' settings in 'Scheduler'; inside the ticket you can manually save drafts with the dedicated button. If you want to revisit this another time before sending, use the 'Continue Later' button.

When finished, you have a few options listed under "Next:"

  • The status will default to 'Waiting for Reply', which will put the conversation on hold until the requester replies back. You can also force the conversation to remain open, or you can close it if you feel your response resolved the issue.
  • You can choose a time to resume the current conversation. For example, if a customer asks you to cancel their account on the 15th you can reply and then close the conversation until that time so the issue isn't sitting open and contributing to clutter. The conversation will automatically change to 'open' status at the time you specify. If you leave the 'resume' field blank then the conversation will only reopen when (or if) the customer replies.
  • You can choose who should handle the next reply. When the customer replies the conversation will automatically be assigned to that person. The most common options here would be yourself -- which is most efficient on subsequent replies since you're already familiar with the issue -- or 'anybody', to throw the conversation back to the group.
  • Lastly, you can choose to move the conversation. If you reply with "I'll send this over to the billing team" then you can move the ticket to the Billing group at the same time.

Dealing with Spam

Cerb5 has an adaptive anti-spam system; which essentially means your helpdesk will learn about the type of mail you normally receive to help spot junk mail, and it will adapt to many of the tricks spammers try to use to get through normal filtering. The anti-spam functionality will work best once you've handled a few hundred messages. Any message replied to by a worker will automatically be trained as not spam, so you only need to take action to report the junk mail you come across.

Reporting spam is easy:

  • Select any rows that are spam in the list you are viewing and click the 'Spam' button at the bottom of the list. You can also use the 'S' keyboard shortcut, or click on the icon in the 'Spam Training' list column if it's visible.
The 'Report Spam' button.


Sometimes you'll have some work, like a ticket, that requires more than a single person to complete it. This is where tasks come in. The worker responsible for an issue can delegate tasks to other workers and monitor their progress; which is especially helpful since tasks can span group boundaries without needing to share specific issues.

To add and manage tasks:

  • Click 'activity' from the top navigation menu.
  • Click the 'Tasks' tab.
Tasks are usually tied to tickets and created from inside the ticket's dedicated 'Tasks' tab. If you want to create a new standalone task, you can do so from here in the 'activity' area.

You can also add and link tasks quickly from:

  • ...the ticket display page
  • ...the address book
  • ...opportunities
  • ...any plugin


Notifications are how you know when something in particular needs your personal attention. By default, notifications will be the first thing you see when you log in. You will also be alerted to any unread notifications next to your sign in name (click the red banner).

John sent me a sticky note notification.

To read your current notifications at any time:

  • Click 'home' in the top navigation menu.
  • Click the 'Notifications' tab.

Currently notifications are generated when:

  • ...you are assigned a ticket.
  • ...you are assigned a task.
  • ...someone leaves a sticky note or comment for you (Notify workers).


Cerb5 has a lot of functionality, and workspaces allow you to create private work areas with lists of exactly the information you want without requiring you to click all over the place.

Workspaces have many uses:

  • You can display everything assigned to you in a single place: tickets, tasks, opportunities, forum threads, etc.
  • If you're responsible for specific kinds of work, you can build a workspace to track activities like: new orders, signups, refunds, etc.
  • If you provide priority support, you can display a workspace to highlight any open tickets from your most important customers.
  • You can create a list of opportunities to follow up with this week.
  • ... the possibilities are endless.

To create new worklists on workspaces:

  • Click 'home' from the top navigation menu.
  • Click the 'Add Worklist' button.
  • Once a worklist is added, you can click 'customize' at the top of the list and add additional filters.
The default workspace (mail and tasks assigned to me) created by the system for each worker.

TIP: You can also create new worklists from almost any list in the helpdesk by clicking 'copy'. This is especially useful when combined with search results.

Tying it all together to build your own workflow

Now you can use the building blocks of Cerb5 we've just covered to automate much of your workflow. Most of the configurations you can develop will involve some combination of Custom Fields, Workspaces, and Inbox filters. Here's some examples:

Remember, Cerb5 is a toolkit. Now it's your toolkit. Enjoy!